The role of Edge Experience Zones in ideation
The edge, by definition, is anything that’s not a data center or cloud. The edge could be an assembly line, a windfarm, a submarine, a smart car, a smart city, a power plant, a smart grid, an industrial oil refinery, a home, or hospital.
These are often harsh environments, and require specialized equipment. Operational technologies (OT), such as control systems, data acquisition systems, and industrial networks reside at the edge. And, more and more enterprise class IT systems (compute, storage, systems management) are moving out to the edge. These two worlds, OT and IT, are comingling and converging at the edge, and has prompted the creation of a new class of systems and solutions to efficiently command the edge and IoT. Specifically, we’re bridging this IT-OT divide with physical OT-IT convergence, combining both in single system box, we call Edgeline Converged Edge Systems.
Visitors to one of HPE’s IoT Innovation Labs can see various technology solutions, from the edge to the cloud. But to get a better understanding of how things actually work on the edge, engaging with our Edge Experience Zones (EEZ) is instructive and enlightening.
The EEZs emulate the reality of being out on the edge, whether it’s a factory floor, city street, or hospital room. For instance, the manufacturing floor EEZ is a physical location within the Lab, where there are demonstrations of how the industrial IoT advances manufacturing processes. The zone for smart cities has smart parking lots, and a system that closes down roads automatically if a flood takes place. And the smart hospital experience zone includes a hospital room with healthcare equipment used to monitor patients and optimize health outcomes.
What’s profound about the Edge Experience Zones and the other parts of HPE’s IoT Innovation Labs is that they are not only places to demonstrate or test solutions. Rather, they are places to get people thinking about possibilities, and come together to ideate on the next generation of IoT and Intelligent Edge solutions. For HPE and its IoT ecosystem of partners (ABB, PTC, National Instruments, Schneider Electric, GE Digital, Deloitte, Intel, SparkCognition, Microsoft and many others), it’s an opportunity to listen to what customers have to say. But it’s also a chance to ask, “If you had this new invention (Edgeline systems) what would you do? And what would you want?”
I call them “inspiration customers” – these colleagues get in early on a new technology or trend, share what their vision is, and articulate what they want to achieve. And, these customers really help us refine our own thinking and offerings. Such forward-thinking firms not only understand the importance of innovation to their own operations, they also have the ability to drive new trends and first-of-a-kind products that can transform entire industries.
Prototyping and testing
After ideation and conceptualization, we get down to the work of building out a solution, right in the IoT Innovation Lab. It may start with experimentation or a proof of concept to validate the use case, the things, and data at hand, all working together with customers and partners. Or, we can build the prototypes and assess different configurations either physically in the lab, or using secure VPN connections if software needs to be tested remotely.
Prototypes and applications can leverage our HPE Edgeline systems, Aruba networking equipment, as well as OT equipment from partners such as National Instruments and Schneider Electric, and software and cloud platforms provided by OSISoft, SparkCognition, Microsoft, and others. If a customer needs to perform tests with specialized controllers, sensors, or cloud services hosted by other parties, they are welcome to bring them in.
For fully developed solutions that are intended for production environments out on the edge, there’s a process for certification. This allows us to get a jump on actual deployment at customer sites. By the time the product, system, or service gets to the edges of an oil rig, or chemical plant, or manufacturing floor, it’s been rigorously tested affording great confidence. Deployment times and hence time-to-value is reduced. Customers have access to our Lab’s facilities and engineering services, which means they aren’t iterating on their own time out on their own edges and facilities.
Customers implementing real IoT solutions
There are real success stories coming out of HPE’s IoT Innovation Labs. You may have heard of the Refinery of the Future, which is the result of a partnership that was incubated in our Houston lab. We are also working with Murphy Oil, and Hirotec, a global auto parts manufacturer that has made the HPE Edgeline the standard on its production lines. As an outcome of a collaboration started in the lab, a Houston-local electricity supplier Centerpoint Energy was able to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.
You can also visit HPE IoT Labs
Our IoT Innovation Labs are open to customers eager to learn more about IoT, converged OT, edge computing, and our ecosystem of IoT and edge partners. Visit this page to learn more and arrange your visit.